While I have received a number of personal letters from individual Turks apologizing for the Genocide, this one is addressed to all Armenians: “My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers and sisters. I apologize to them.”
The thousands of Turkish signatories of the apology statement are not saying sorry for the genocide itself (which they call “the Great Catastrophe,” translating from the Armenian Metz Yeghern). The apology is for the convenient “ignorance” and “denial” about the WWI extermination of Ottoman Empire’s indigenous Armenians for about nine decades. The message, as I see it, is not recognizing a historical fact but recognizing humanity. To recognize genocide means to recognize a victim group’s humanity. The reverse can, apparently, be true as well.
What is also true is that there are thousands of Turks who are willing to risk their lives and comfort in order to break an ancient silence. As one Turkish friend told me, “[i]t’s a bit like putting your name on a ‘wanted’ list.” The “wanted list” is pretty big: over 22,000 signatures on the main website, http://www.ozurdiliyoruz.com/, by December 24, 2008, and over 3,400 on Facebook (as of Dec 20) with their real names and photographs (the Facebook event list seems to have since become a private one).
Nevertheless, Turkish media are openly calling Canan Arıtman, the female member of a social-democratic party who suggested Gul is a traitor because of his alleged Armenian origin, a “fascist” and a “racist.” Suggesting that the politician be expelled from her party, one Turkish columnist writing for Sabah says, “Arıtman is racist. What place can racism and questioning ethnic origins have in social democracy, an ideology that has freedom, equality and brotherhood as its fundamental tenets?”
Writing even harsher, a liberal Turkish columnist asks what if all Turks have Armenian origin:
“Arıtman and those like her are the strongest reason we have to apologize to the Armenian community. If these people can readily put into circulation statements that are racist, low and self-aggrandizing, the entire community is responsible for that. We all have a share in this crime. I have questions to ask people who approach this issue reluctantly and who think that it is unnecessary as an agenda item. Have you ever thought about this? Maybe we are all really Armenians. We may all have people in our lineage who were forced to act like Muslim Turks.”
A Zaman columnist says Turks “should thank the racist CHP deputy” for reminding the history of her political party. Apparently that political party is the hereditary of the chauvinist “Union and Progress” that committed the Genocide in 1915.
Furthermore, some of Arıtman’s colleagues in the parliament have compared her to Hitler: “”It was a similar stance that led German dictator Adolf Hitler to burn thousands of people of Jewish origin. Arıtman sees Armenians as enemies.”
When was the last time when any media in Turkey was outraged against insulting Armenians? Indeed this is unprecedented and demonstrates the power of the apology – no matte how vague and not-enough it may be. This maybe the reason why there is so much ultranationalist outrage in Turkey against the apology (even if some self-perceived progressives silently suggest the apology serves Turkey’s national interests). The website of the apology, for instance, was “suspended” according to a message which appeared on it around 1:30 AM standard US eastern time on December 23, 2008. Days ago it was also hacked. Furthermore, a group of nationalists have opened their own website called “I don’t apologize.” Almost 50,000 nationalists have signed it as of December 24. Another counter campaign claims twice as many supporters, although neither websites have received much – if any coverage – in Turkish or other media.
Hated by Turkish ultranationalists, the apology initiative has inspired similar (though low-profile) campaigns in the region. I have received a text that is being circulated among Cypriot Turks and Greeks asking both communities to apologize to each other:
“Initiative for Apologizing for the atrocities committed by ones’ own community
1. This is an initiative to collect signatures on a document apologizing for the atrocities committed by ones’ own community against the other. Following the initiative of 200 Turkish intellectuals, who found the courage to apologize for the Armenian genocide, we believe it is time for Cypriots to assume responsibility for the crimes allegedly committed in their name and to express regret and condemnation.
2. The initiative also aims at putting an end to the decades- long practice of concealing the truth about the events, of denying that they ever took place or attempt to justify them. This amounts to a crime of massacre denial which can no longer be tolerated. At the same time each one of us must assume responsibility for the actions we can take as parents, teachers, activists, journalists, politicians to put an end to the decades-long conspiracy of silence about our regrettable past.
3. We call on all interested persons and organizations to engage in a process of consultation on how best to promote this initiative and to formulate the text to be signed.”
Full of more potential for good than for bad, the Turkish apology is one that surprises many. In fact, it might not have been possible without one person. According to the Irish Times:
Others attribute the initiative to the shock that followed the murder of the Armenian-Turkish editor Hrant Dink. A leading advocate of a more humane debate on the Armenian issue, Dink was gunned down by a nationalist teenager in January 2007.
“When he died, it was as if a veil had been torn from the eyes of the democratic-minded citizens of this country,” says Nil Mutluer, a feminist activist who signed the letter. “People realised there was no time to be lost.”
The road ahead looks hard. The chief organisers of the 1915 massacres continue to be commemorated in street names across the country….”
The road is a hard one, but not unprecedented. Around the globe, there is a global recognition of indigenous rights which have often been repressed through genocidal policies. One such injustice was recently corrected by the country of Nicaragua when it gave title of traditional land to a native nation. A simple apology seems to please many Armenians, though, even it comes froma group of liberal Turks who are ashamed of a 90-year-old campaign to silence and rewrite history.
When I gave my father a print-out of the apology in western Armenian, his initial reaction was: “They took all of our land and memory and all they give us is an apology by a group of small people who don’t even use the word genocide?” To my surprise, he then added, “I accept their apology.”
And earlier this April, when a group of Turkish lobbyists and community organizers denied the Armenian genocide during a commemorative lecture at University of Denver, an Armenian friend of mine (who openly calls himself a nationalist), said to the audience that if a Turk told him “sorry” for the Genocide he would give that Turk a “big, Armenian hug.”
My friend owes 20,000 Turks big, Armenian hugs. Let’s hope the number grows so big that he will never be able to give so many hugs in 90 years.
Three years after a cemetery dating back to the 9th Century was deliberately destroyed in the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan, bloggers recall an ancient culture annihilated and condemn the world for closing its eyes to what many consider to be an official attempt to rewrite history.
Today is the commemoration of the 3rd anniversary of Djulfa’s destruction. …This [is] not only a crime against Armenian culture, but against our collective cultural heritage as humankind. Don’t let it go unnoticed.
Between 10-16 December 2005 over a hundred uniformed men were videotaped destroying the Djulfa cemetery using sledgehammers, cranes, and trucks. The video was taken from across the border in Iran.
Азербайджанские власти на протяжении всего советского периода старались уничтожить этот некрополь, поскольку для них он был всего лишь свидетельством о том, что именно армяне были хозяевами этой территории на протяжении веков, вопреки тому, что говорилось в азербайджанских советских мифах о собственной “древности”… Это кладбище, вполне достойное названия чуда, было даже не внесено в реестр архитектурных памятников Азербайджана… После распада СССР, во время карабахского конфликта, продолжалось разорение кладбища, и, наконец, оно было окончательно уничтожено….
The Azeri authorities throughout all Soviet period tried to destroy this necropolis as for them it was only a testament that Armenians were owners of this territory throughout centuries in spite of Azerbaijan’s Soviet myths about own “antiquity”… This cemetery, quite worthy to be called a wonder, was not even placed on the register of architectural monuments of Azerbaijan… After USSR’s collapse, during the Karabakh conflict, the cemetery’s demolition continued, and, at last, definitively destroyed….
آنان از سنگ قبر ارامنه هم نگذشته اند و با تخریب دوازده هزار قبر با سنگ قبر هایی منحصر به فرد که متعلق به چند قرن پیش بوده و جزئی از میراث فرهنگی ارامنه به حساب می آمد، هیچ اثری از ارمنی نشین بودن آنجا، بجا نگذاشته اند.
[After acquiring Nakhichevan, Azeris] did not even tolerate Armenian gravestones. They destroyed twelve thousand Armenian graves. These unique gravestones with several centuries’ history were part of Armenian cultural heritage. However, through destruction of these gravestones, [Azeris] destroyed all signs indicating the existence of Armenians in that land. [translated by Loosineh M.]
iArarat, remembers Djulfa by discussing Robert Bevan’s The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War, a book that was “part of a class I teach at a Texas university on nationalism and ethno-political conflicts.”
While reading Bevan’s book I was inevitably reminded of the destruction of the medieval Armenian cemetery in Jugha, presently in Azerbaijan. Azeri soldiers at the command of their superiors without as much as blinking an eye would embark at destroying and erasing the last vestige of the Armenian civilization in that territory as if the Armenians had never as much as existed there, as if Armenians had never as much as created anything, something to celebrate their faith and commemorate their dead…
Adding insult to injury, earlier this month Baku, Azerbaijan hosted a little-noticed two-day conference of Council of Europe culture ministers to discuss “Intercultural dialogue as the basis for peace and sustainable development in Europe and its neighboring regions.” In his opening remarks to the attendees Azeri president Ilham Aliyev, astonishingly claimed:
“Azerbaijan has rich history and the cultural monuments here are duly preserved, and a lot is being done in this direction…”
[T]he Armenian Ministry of Culture failed to deliver a message by boycotting the conference. They either should have properly boycotted the conference by making an appropriate statement explaining the reasons for non-participation, or they should have participated there to raise the all important issues of destruction of Armenian cultural heritage in Azerbaijan, as well as protecting and restoring the multinational cultural heritage in all three South Caucasus countries [Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan].
old-dilettante [RU], says that Djulfa’s destruction was the last stage of Azerbaijan’s attempt to eradicate Nakhichevan’s Armenian heritage. Commenting on a post about churches in Georgia, she writes:
Теперь там не найдется ни одной армянской церкви, несмотря на фотографии и книги, изданные всего ничего – лет 20 тому назад. Все церкви уничтожены. Все могилы. Все хачкары.
И кто через 20 лет скажет, что там вообще жили армяне? … А ведь мой дед был “местным жителем”.
…Now, not a single Armenian church will be found [in Nakhichevan] despite of photographs, some as recent as 20-years-old. All churches are annihilated. All cemeteries. All khatchkars.
And who will say in 20 years that Armenians ever lived there? … It wasn’t that long ago that my own grandfather was a “local” there.
In Baku Armenian cemeteries with less historical but more immediate sentimental value to many (including my family whose three generations made their home in Baku for nearly a century) were paved over for roads or new construction. That does not justify the disrespect they were afforded but makes some remote sense.
In the case of Jugha khachkars stood in the middle of nowhere and were simply crushed, dismembered, thrown into the river. They were targeted and wiped out as the last remaining Armenian outpost.
Sarcastically, the journalist-blogger considers how other Armenian monuments on Azerbaijani territory could be protected.
Now I am thinking, perhaps Armenians should disassemble the remaining Azeri mosques and gravestones on their territory and exchange them for the khachkars and other Armenian heritage items of value?
Certainly some of the Azeri items have cultural value for Armenia and I would rather not see them go. But what other options are there?
Reacting to a comment on his above-mentioned post, Ivan Kondratiev [RU] also says that if Azerbaijanis wanted to cleanse their territory of Armenian heritage, they could have at least given the monuments to Armenia even if such a transfer would amount to acknowledging Djulfa’s Armenian history.
[T]here is reason to be optimistic that [Barack Obama's] foreign policy team will… have a very different response to the ongoing stonewalling by the Azeris than [current US Secretary of State] Rice’s utter disinterest [about Djulfa's destruction], which is rooted in the Bush administration’s pro-Azerbaijani, pro-Turkey foreign policy.
In addition to secretary of state nominee Hillary Clinton [...] prospective U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice has a particular interest in genocide and is an advocate of military action to stop mass killings, rather than ineffective “dialogue” as slaughters continue apace. And Harvard professor Samantha Power, author of “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide” (2002), has been quietly advising Obama behind the scenes [...].
Given that past is prologue, with these women’s combined emphasis on championing human rights and genocide prevention, it will not be easy for the Obama administration to ignore or overlook the genocide that preceeded – and encouraged – all others in the 20th and 21st centuries, or the ongoing “cultural genocides” in Azerbaijan and Turkey against the archeological remains of a once-thriving, centuries-old Armenian population that is no more.
More photographs of the cemetery, before and after its destruction, are available at www.djulfa.com.
Turkey is nowhere close to recognizing the 1915 genocide it committed against Armenians and Assyrians, but at least a museum in the historic Armenian town of Van, now claimed by local Kurds, has removed artifacts that previously showed “Armenian atrocities” against Turks:
In the words of a visitor to the newly-renovated Van museum:
Now that the museum is open, we can make our own assessment of the renovation it underwent between 2006 and 2008.
The ground floor remains very much the same, with wonderful Urartian artifacts that include pottery, metalwork, jewelry, and furniture. There isn’t a great deal, but what one can see is both fascinating and beautiful.
The “Armenian atrocities” section on the upper floor is removed. It is replaced with more Urartian artifacts, as well as ethnographic materials, such as kilims, period costumes, Ottoman swords, rifles, and revolvers, as well as household items and Korans.
Considering all the effort that has gone into the removal of the “Armenian atrocities” section of the museum, and all the thought that must have gone into the content of the newly designed upper floor, one is disappointed to see that Armenians have been made invisible in this new museum: there is nothing that refers to Armenia or Armenians anywhere. Although there is a map of the region showing a number of churches and monasteries, they are not identified as Armenian churches or monasteries, nor is there any explanation anywhere in the museum that mentions either Armenia or Armenians in a historical context.
Writing at theKeghart blog, Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies researcher Vicken Babkenian argues that it is, literally, impossible to deny the Armenian Genocide. Since the word “genocide” was coined by Raphael Lemkin to specifically describe what happened to Armenians during WWI and to Jews during WWII, by using the word “genocide” one recognizes – even if saying “the Armenian Genocide was a lie” – the Armenian Genocide (and the Holocaust):
It all began when I was cutting an Orange for my niece when she asked me why the name Orange is both a color and a fruit. After doing some research, I discovered that the root of the word Orange in the English language is derived from the fruit. In other words the Etymology of the color and the fruit is interconnected. No one can argue that the fruit Orange is not Orange.
As someone who has studied the Armenian Genocide over a number of years, I could not help but familiarize myself with the etymology of the word Genocide. I discovered that the word genocide is from the roots genos (Greek for family, tribe, race, a people, a nation) and –cide (Latin – occidere or cideo – to Massacre, Kill, exterminate). I looked up the word in the Oxford dictionary and found the definition to be “the extermination of a race”. I then recalled that this definition of the word ‘genocide’ had been used by contemporary eyewitnesses, diplomats, historians, journalists to describe what was happening to the Armenians during WWI. Lord James Bryce in 1915 called it “the Extermination of a Race” in a New York Times article. If the word ‘genocide’ had been coined before WWI, then that one word would have been used, instead of the five words which mean the same thing.
I then conducted some research on Raphael Lemkin, “The founder of the genocide convention” and on the genesis of the word ‘genocide’ which he coined in 1944. In his manuscript titled “Totally unofficial”, Lemkin wrote:
“In 1915 . . . I began . . . to read more history to study whether national, religious, or racial groups as such were being destroyed. The truth came out after the war. In Turkey, more than 1,200,000 Armenians were put to death . . . After the end of the war, some 150 Turkish war criminals were arrested and interned by the British Government on the island of Malta . . . Then one day, I read in the newspapers that all Turkish war criminals were to be released. I was shocked. A nation that killed and the guilty persons were set free . . . I felt that a law against this type of racial or religious murder must be adopted by the world”
I soon reached the conclusion that the word genocide is etymologically interconnected with the tragedy of the Armenians, just like the word Orange is to the fruit of the same name. The man who coined the word genocide had in large part based it on the Armenian catastrophe. He even stated on national television “that it happened to the Armenians.”
I searched online to learn which countries had actually signed and ratified the Genocide Convention. I discovered that most countries in the world had done so, including the United States, Great Britain, Turkey, Israel and so on. I concluded that by ratifying the convention they had in fact recognized that the Armenian holocaust was in fact a genocide.
Yes, I use the word ‘holocaust’ because that word was used to describe what was happening to the Armenians during the Abdul Hamid Massacres, Adana Massacres and the Armenian genocide by contemporary writers. William Walker Rockwell in an article titled “the Total of Armenian and Syrian Dead” in the New York Times Current History February 1916, wrote “If the ghosts of the Christian civilians who have perished miserably in Turkey since the commencement of the great holocaust should march down Fifth Avenue twenty abreast there might be a million of them … for most of them will be women and children”.
The Armenian genocide has been recognized by the majority of the nations of the world and we didn’t even know it. If those countries who have ratified the genocide convention deny that the Armenians were victims of genocide, then they should either terminate their participation to the convention, or have the convention change the word ‘genocide’ to something else which is not intrinsically connected to the Armenian slaughter.
Denying that Armenians were victims of genocide is akin to denying that an Orange is Orange. It is insane and illogical. For those who believe that what happened to the Armenians should not be termed a ‘genocide’, should have convinced Raphael Lemkin not to base the word on what had happened to the Armenians. Unfortunately for them, it is too late, by signing the genocide convention; most of the world has already recognized the Armenian genocide.
With a number of journalists in prison, Azerbaijan’s authorities are now attacking ordinary citizen’s freedom of speech. A 58-year-old man in Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan’s “region without rights,” has been given an 18-month-sentence for writing dozens of “slanderous” anonymous letters to government officials.
APA’s local bureau reports the investigations found out that resident of Gahab village of Babek region, Aliyev Novruz Safar, 58, had written tens of groundless slanderous letters.
Novruz Aliyev faced charges under article 147.2 (slander, which is connected with accusation of committing serious or especially serious crime) of the Criminal Code. Nakhchivan city court sentenced Novruz Aliyev to 18 months in jail.
Peter Balakian has published an essay in New York Times Magazine that will be included in the 10th, upcoming edition of his Black Dog of Fate. Balakian tells the story of how he smuggled bones of Armenian genocide victims from the Syrian desert to the United States. Here is much of the essay:
For Armenians, Der Zor has come to have a meaning approximate to Auschwitz. Each, in different ways, an epicenter of death and a systematic process of mass-killing; each a symbolic place, an epigrammatic name on a dark map. Der Zor is a term that sticks with you, or sticks on you, like a burr or thorn: “r” “z” “or” — hard, sawing, knifelike. Der Zor: A place to which hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1915 and 1916 were forced to march, a final destination in the genocide of the Armenians carried out by the Ottoman Turkish government under the cover of World War I.
In May 2005, after I was invited to lecture in Beirut through the auspices of the U.S. State Department, the Armenian church arranged for me to travel into Syria — to Aleppo, an important city of refuge during the Armenian genocide, and farther east to Der Zor.
I realized now that Der Zor was a huge region of arid land. After a couple of hours of nothing but the occasional flock of sheep, the car stopped in the middle of nowhere, and up the hill at the side of the road I saw a small chapel of white stone.
“This is Margadeh,” my guide, Father Nerseh, said. “About 15 years ago, the Syrian government was doing some exploration for oil here and put their steam shovels in the ground, and piles of bones came up.”
“Right here,” I said pointing down.
“Yes.” He explained that the Syrian government had offered the Armenian church a plot of land for a memorial.
I walked up the slope toward the chapel. I put my hand in the dirt, grazing the ground, and came up with hard white pieces. “Our ancestors are here,” I muttered. Then I began, without thinking, picking up handfuls of dirt, sifting out the bones and stuffing them in my pockets. I felt the porous, chalky, dirt-saturated, hard, infrangible stuff in my hands. A piece of hip socket, part of a skull. Nine decades later.
I filled my pockets with bones, compelled to have these fragments with me as I continued up the hill to the chapel. The floor was cool, and behind the altar was a wall of alabaster with a carved cross. With the evening sun pouring through a yellow glass window, the whole space was floating in saffron light. I tried to empty my head and let go of the graveyard I was standing in, to let go of myself. Let the breath go in, go out.
On the plane back to the United States, I kept waking and sleeping. It wasn’t until we were over Labrador that I realized I was carrying organic matter from another country. The declaration card asked: Are you bringing with you fruits, plants, cell cultures, “soil, or have you visited a farm/ranch/pasture outside the United States?” The bones, now in resealable bags, were caked with soil, and although they weren’t cell cultures, what were they now, 90 years later?
I reached down into my briefcase and felt them through the plastic, glancing around to see if a flight attendant might be looking. What could I say? These are bones of my countrymen? I had visited a pasture of bones in the Syrian desert? This one might be from my grandmother’s first husband; this one from a farmer from Sivas. I filled out my declaration card. “Are you bringing with you … ?”
I put an X in the “No” column.
As I stood in line at customs at Kennedy Airport, I remembered my State Department hosts telling me that, because of where I’d been, they might want to check my bags. But the customs agent looked at my passport, looked at me, then stamped the passport and said, “Welcome back.”
In one of the worst earthquakes of the Soviet Union, the second-largest city in Armenia was destroyed on December 7, 1988. Twenty years after the devastation, Gyumri (formerly, Leninakan) and much of northern Armenia isn’t completely rebuilt. Today marks the 20th anniversary of an honor that took 25,000 lives and made half a million people from a population of 3 million homeless. They were other damages too:
The number of the wounded: about 20.000 people, from which 12.500 people were hospitalized
The material losses were about 10bn USD
Destroyed or severely suffered: 21 towns and 342 villages
Destructed: 50% of the housing – about 8mln m2
Stopped functioning 170 industrial enterprises with 82 000 jobs, the industrial capacity was 1,9bn USD
Severely suffered or destroyed 917 centres of people’s education with 200 000 jobs, 250 health units, 324 clubs and houses of culture
Destroyed 24 000 head of cattle, 45 000 head of sheep, 8000 pigs.
From 8461 architectural, art and historical monuments of the disaster area completely destroyed 1255, seriously damaged – 984, became half-destructed – 1216.
Before Armenia could start rebuilding Leninakan in late 1988, struggle for independence from the Soviet Union intensified, and a war with a former Soviet neighbor, Azerbaijan, became inevitable. Leninakan was renamed Gyumri as Armenia became independent in 1991, but reconstruction took a slow path. Those who survived the earthquake started another chapter of struggle.
In the face of economic hardship in all parts of Armenia, many residents of Gyumri left the country with a hope for a better life. They had seen how rich and generous the rest of the world was. Massive aid and support had reached Armenia following the earthquake, even bringing Jeb Bush, the son of America’s president-elect and vice president George Bush Senior, to the falling walls of the Soviet Union.
Twenty years after the destruction, northern Armenia still bears the marks of the earthquake. May the dead rest in piece. Hope and salute to all the survivors, including to my ex-girlfriend A. whose baptism cross was lost in ruins during the earthquake (she was just a year old at the time).
Too short for Armenians and too long for the Turkish government, a two-hour CNN documentary by Christiane Amanpour on genocide includes a 45-second mention of the WWI extermination of Ottoman Empire’s indigenous Armenian population. Premiered on December 4, 2008, Scream Bloody Murder has made many Armenian bloggers angry, leading them to recall Hitler’s rhetoric for impunity, “Who, after all, remembers the Armenians?”
Armenia-based blogger, photographer and designer Arsineh had concerns even before watching the documentary. Writing on Ars Eye View, she says:
I’m preparing to watch the program for myself, but given this much prior information, I have to ask. If you are going to cover the epidemic of genocide, starting with the campaign to criminalize genocide, continue to show the struggle so many have endured to (as you titled your program) “SCREAM BLOODY MURDER” while the world turned a deaf ear only to allow genocide to continue around the world, shouldn’t you be talking about the biggest cover up of genocide, the very one which inspired Lemkin to coin the word, the very one which also inspired Adolf Hitler to follow through with the Holocaust? Afterall, it’s this denial that scares CNN from ever using the word “Genocide” in their reporting on related matters.
Writing in detail, West of Igdir says a previous CNN press release suggested the coverage of the Armenian Genocide was going to be more intense.
The release specifically mentioned Armenia as one of the cases of genocide it would be examining. This naturally created some excitement that finally a major news organization would be dedicating a program partly to the so often overlooked Armenian Genocide of 1915 and inform a nationwide audience about it.
I had been feeling hopeful about the documentary and might have given it more of a pass on this omition until I saw this interactive map on the section of Scream Bloody Murder section of CNN’s website about the world’s killing fields. It appears that despite the fact when it had first been announced Armenia was prominently mentioned as one of the examples of genocide that would be covered, it was overlooked as being pinpointed on the interactive map as an example of genocide.
Clearly the documentary did not go unnoticed in Turkey, despite the fact it says almost nothing about the Armenian Genocide, as the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet yesterday declared “Genocide feature worrisome.”
A comment by a security-analyst who chooses to be ananymous
Although the vast majority of the West knows about, and acknowledges the fact that Ottoman Turkey committed the world’s first* genocide in 1915, there still remains a small cadre of individuals who desperately try and convince people otherwise. Usually, they will attempt to do so by demonizing Armenians, in essence arguing that they deserved it, or else they will claim the deaths were unintentional. However, a few Turkish agents try and use numbers to convince the uninformed reader that there was no genocide. These propagandists understand that those who use numbers often have reputations of being rational and objective, and are therefore more likely to be listened to if they do the same.
While it has become something like an endangered species when it comes to Armenian Genocide denial tactics, the notion that there are too many Armenians alive today to have allowed for a genocide still occasionally rears its ugly head at conferences and on websites; even the Turkish Foreign Ministry has used this polemical statement.*
In any case, it’s high time to obliterate this so-called argument by using rather elementary math. Wikipedia states that there are between nine and ten million Armenians alive today. For the purpose of this exercise, let’s just agree on 9.5 million. Most scholars, including Turkish and Armenian historians, agree that there were around three million Armenians in the world before 1915. Using this number one can calculate the growth rate needed to arrive at today’s figures. One set of calculations can use the communal violence theory where only 400,000 Armenians died, and the other set of calculations will use the figure that 1.2 million Armenians died in an actual genocide. Therefore, the initial population figures in 1916 are 2.6 million and 1.8 million respectively. With these numbers, one can use the equation T=Pe^(rt) to find the average growth rate, where T=today’s number, P=past number, t=time in years, and r=average annual growth rate.
T=9.5 mil T=9.5 mil
P=2.6 mil P=1.8 mil
t=92 years t=92 years
r=1.4% per year r=1.8 % per year
As compared the the CIA Factbook’s .88% growth rate for the US, a 1.8% growth rate for Armenians is quick, but not abnormally so, because there are numerous counties whose growth rate is, in fact, much higher than 1.8%. For example, according to the CIA Factbook lists Bangladesh’s growth rate at over 2% per year. Therefore, without any miracle, which Genocide deniers claim is necessary, the existence of a genocide can still allow for the present population of Armenians.
Nevertheless, it is likely that that even a 1.8% annual growth rate is higher than the actual rate, because many present day Armenians counted in the total number of 9.5 million, are 3/4, 1/2, 1/4 Armenian. Let’s then make a reasonable assumption that of the 9.5 million Armenians, that 1.5 million are half (assuming the 3/4 and 1/4 armenians counter balance and average to 1/2 as well). Reasoning that a population will grow twice as quickly if that entire populatioin breeds with external populations, one can logically divide the 1.5 mil figure in half to .75 mill. So the adjusted Armentian population today is actually 8.75 million. With this corrected number, the new post genocide annual growth rate via the T=Pe^(rt) equation, is 1.7%. A 1.7% growth rate is not unreasonable by any means, the US itself held similar growth rates earlier in the 20th cenury, and many 2nd world countries have this growth rate today.
Lastly, one can also make the unscientific observation that immigrant families often have larger families than native ones, and most Armenians outside the Republic of Armenia are immigrants themselves, or decended from them.
In conclusion, Armenian Genocide deniers should continue to use this denial tactic, because it makes them look ridiculous and ignorant.
I just came across to imprisoned Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev’s case on the European Court for Human Rights website. Fatullayev was initially imprisoned for challenging Azerbaijan’s official version of the Khojalu massacre (by Armenians) during the Nagorno-Karabakh war in the 1990s. Below is the full facts as summarized by the court:
09 September 2008
Application no. 40984/07
by Eynulla FATULLAYEV
lodged on 10 September 2007
STATEMENT OF FACTS
The applicant, Mr Eynulla Fatullayev, is an Azerbaijani national who was born in 1976 and lives in Baku. He is represented before the Court by Mr I. Ashurov, a lawyer practising in Baku.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.
The applicant was the founder and chief editor of the newspapers Realny Azerbaijan (“Реальный Азербайджан”), published in the Russian language, and Gündəlik Azərbaycan, published in the Azerbaijani language. The newspapers were widely known for often publishing articles harshly criticising the Government and various public officials.
Prior to the events complained of in this application, on 26 September 2006 the applicant had already been convicted for defamation and conditionally sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. He had also been sued for defamation in a number of civil proceedings.
In 2007 two sets of criminal proceedings were brought against the applicant in connection with, inter alia, two articles published by him in Realny Azerbaijan.
A. “Karabakh Diary”
In 2005 the applicant visited, as a journalist, the area of Nagorno-Karabakh and other territories controlled by the Armenian forces. There he met with, among others, some officials of the self-proclaimed unrecognised “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic”. In the aftermath of this visit, in April 2005 the applicant published an article called “Karabakh Diary” (Russian: “Карабахский дневник”) in Realny Azerbaijan.
One of the topics discussed in “Karabakh Diary” concerned the Khojaly massacre of 26 February 1992. Discussing this topic, the applicant made certain statements which could be construed as differing from the commonly accepted version of the Khojaly events, according to which hundreds of Azerbaijani civilians had been killed by the Armenian armed forces during their assault on the town of Khojaly in the course of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Specifically, the article contained the following passages (translated from Russian):
“For the sake of fairness I will admit that several years ago I met the refugees from Khojaly, temporarily settled in Naftalan, who openly confessed to me that, on the eve of the large-scale offensive of the Russian and Armenian troops on Khojaly, the town had been encircled [by those troops]. And already several days prior to the attack, the Armenians had been continuously warning the population about the planned operation through loudspeakers and proposing that the civilians abandon the town and escape from the encirclement through a humanitarian corridor along the Kar-Kar River. According to the Khojaly refugees’ own words, they had used this corridor and, indeed, the Armenian soldiers positioned behind the corridor had not opened fire on them. Some soldiers from the battalions of the NFA [the National Front of Azerbaijan, a political party], for some reason, had led a part of the [refugees] in the direction of the village of Nakhichevanik, which during that period had been under control of the Armenians’ Askeran battalion. …
When I was in Askeran [in Nagorno Karabakh], I spoke to the deputy head of the administration of Askeran Slavik Arushanyan and compared his recollection of the events with that of the Khojaly inhabitants who came under fire from the Azerbaijani side. I asked S. Arushanyan to show me the corridor which the Khojaly inhabitants had used [to abandon the town]. Having familiarised myself with the geographical area, I can say, fully convinced, that the conjectures that there had been no Armenian corridor are groundless. The corridor indeed existed, otherwise the Khojaly inhabitants, fully surrounded [by the enemy troops] and isolated from the outside world, would not have been able to force their way out and escape the encirclement. However, having crossed the area behind the Kar-Kar River, the row of refugees was separated and, for some reason, a part of [them] headed in the direction of Nakhichevanik. It appears that the NFA battalions strived not for the liberation of the Khojaly civilians but for more bloodshed on their way to overthrow A. Mutalibov [the first President of Azerbaijan] …”
On 23 February 2007 Ms T. Chaladze, the Head of the Centre for Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons, lodged a civil action against the applicant with the Yasamal District Court. She claimed that the applicant “has, for a long period of time, insulted the honour and dignity of the victims of the Khojaly Tragedy, persons killed during those tragic events and their relatives, as well as veterans of the Karabakh War, soldiers of the Azerbaijani National Army and the entire Azerbaijani people”. She alleged that that the applicant did so by making the above-mentioned statements in his article “Karabakh Diary” as well as by making, in 2006 and 2007, similar insulting statements on the interactive forum of the website called AzeriTriColor. These internet forum postings, the authorship of which Ms Chaladze attributed to the applicant, contained the following statements:
“I have visited this town [Naftalan] where I have spoken to hundreds (I repeat, hundreds) of refugees who insisted that there had been a corridor and that they had remained alive owing to this corridor … But a part of the Khojaly inhabitants had been fired upon by our own [troops] … not by [some] mysterious [shooters], but by provocateurs from the NFA battalions … [The corpses] had been mutilated by our own [soldiers] …”
In his submissions to the court, the applicant argued that the forum postings at the AzeriTriColor website had not been written by him and denied making these statements. He also argued that, in “Karabakh Diary”, he had merely written about the information given to him by persons that he had interviewed.
On 6 April 2007 the Yasamal District Court, presided by Judge I. Ismayilov, upheld Ms Chaladze’s claim and ordered the applicant to pay compensation in the amount of 20,000 New Azerbaijani manats (approximately 16,000 euros).
Thereafter, a group of former soldiers and other persons who had been involved in the Khojaly events, represented by Ms Chaladze, filed a criminal complaint against the applicant with the Yasamal District Court, under the procedure of private prosecution. They asked that the applicant be convicted for defamation and false accusation of Azerbaijani soldiers of having committed an especially grave crime.
At a preliminary hearing held on 9 April 2007, the applicant filed an objection against the entire composition of the Yasamal District Court. He claimed that all of the judges of this court had been appointed to their positions in September 2000 for a fixed five-year term and that their term of office had expired in 2005. He therefore argued that such a composition of the court could not be considered as a “tribunal established by law”. This objection was dismissed.
The hearing of the criminal case took place on 20 April 2007 and was presided over by Judge I. Ismayilov.
In his oral submissions to the court, the applicant pleaded his innocence. In particular, he denied making the statements on the forum of the AzeriTriColor website and maintained that those statements had been made by someone else who had used his name for this purpose.
The court heard a linguistic expert, who gave an opinion on the applicant’s statements, and a number of witnesses, who testified about the Khojaly events. The court also found that the internet forum of the AzeriTriColor website, in essence, replaced the internet forum of the Realny Azerbaijan website, which had become defunct in 2006, and that the statements posted on that forum under the screen name “Eynulla Fatullayev” had indeed been made by the applicant himself. Lastly, the court found that, through his statements made in “Karabakh Diary” and his internet forum postings, the applicant had given a heavily distorted account of the historical events in Khojaly and had deliberately disseminated false information which damaged the reputation of the plaintiffs and accused them of committing grave crimes which they had not committed. The court convicted the applicant under Articles 147.1 (defamation) and 147.2 (defamation by way of accusing a person of having committed a grave crime) of the Criminal Code and sentenced him to two years and six months’ imprisonment.
The applicant was arrested in the courtroom and taken to the Investigative Isolator No. 1 on the same day (20 April 2007). Until 23 April 2007, his lawyer was not allowed to visit him as he was required to obtain a court’s permission to do so.
On 6 June 2007 the Court of Appeal upheld the Yasamal District Court’s judgment of 20 April 2007.
On 21 August 2007 the Supreme Court dismissed the applicant’s cassation appeal and upheld the lower courts’ judgments.
B. “The Aliyevs Go to War”
In the meantime, on 30 March 2007, Realny Azerbaijan published an article called “The Aliyevs Go to War” (Russian: “Алиевы идут на войну”). The article was written by the applicant but published under the pseudonym “Rovshan Bagirov”. This analytical article was devoted to possible consequences of Azerbaijan’s support of a recent “anti-Iranian” resolution of the UN Security Council, which had called for economic sanctions against that country. The article referred to the current Azerbaijani government as “the Aliyev clan” and “the governing tribe” and expressed a view that the latter sought US support of President Ilham Aliyev’s “remaining in power” in Azerbaijan in exchange for Azerbaijan’s support of the US “aggression” against Iran.
The article continued as follows (translated from Russian):
“It is also known that, immediately after the UN [Security Council] had voted for this resolution, [the authorities] in Teheran began to seriously prepare for the beginning of the “anti-Iranian operation”. For several years, military headquarters of the Islamic regime had been developing plans for repulsing the American aggression and counter-striking the US and their allies in the region. After 24 March 2007 Azerbaijan, having openly supported the anti-Iranian operation, must prepare for a lengthy and dreadful war which will result in large-scale destruction and loss of human life. According to the information from the sources close to official Paris, the Iranian General Staff has already developed its military plans concerning Azerbaijan in case Baku takes part in the aggression against Iran. Thus, the Iranian long-range military air force, thousands of insane kamikaze terrorists from the IRGC [the Islamic Revolution’s Guardian Corps] and hundreds of Shahab-2 and Shahab-3 missiles will strike the following main targets on the territory of Azerbaijan …”
The article continued with a long and detailed list of such targets, which included, inter alia, active oil platforms on the shelf of the Caspian Sea, the Sangachal Oil Terminal and other oil plants and terminals, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, the building of the Presidential Administration, the building of the US Embassy in Azerbaijan, buildings of various ministries, the Baku seaport and airport, a number of large business centres accommodating offices of major foreign companies doing business in Azerbaijan, etc.
Further, the article continued to elaborate on the issue of possible unrest, in case of a conflict with Iran, in the southern regions of Azerbaijan populated by the Talysh ethnic minority who are ethnically and linguistically close to the Persians. Among other things, the article appeared to imply that the current ruling elite, a large number of whom allegedly come from the region of Nakhchivan, engaged in regional nepotism by appointing people from Nakhchivan to government posts in southern areas of the country, including the Lenkoran region. In particular, the article stated:
“Thus, the Talysh have long been expressing their discontent with the fact that [the central authorities] always appoint to the administrative positions in Lenkoran persons hailing from Nakhchivan who are alien to the mentality and problems of the region. … The level of unemployment in the region is terribly high, drug abuse is flourishing, every morning hundreds of unemployed Talysh cluster together at the “slave” [that is, cheap labour] market in Baku. Is this not a powder keg?”
On 16 May 2007 the investigation department of the Ministry of National Security (“the MNS”) commenced a criminal investigation in connection with this publication under Article 214.1 of the Criminal Code (terrorism or threat of terrorism).
On 22 May 2007 the investigation authorities conducted searches in the applicant’s apartment and in the office of the Realny Azerbaijan and Gündəlik Azərbaycan newspapers. They found and seized certain photographs and computer discs from the applicant’s apartment and twenty computer hard drives from the newspaper’s office.
On 26 May 2007, pursuant to a decision of the Sabail District Court, the applicant was transferred to the MNS detention facility.
On 31 May 2007 the Chief Prosecutor made a statement to the press, noting that the article published in Realny Azerbaijan, founded by the applicant, contained information which constituted a threat of terrorism and that a criminal investigation had been instituted in this connection by the MNS.
On 3 July 2007, by a decision of an MNS investigator, the applicant was formally charged with committing the crimes of threat of terrorism (Article 214.1 of the Criminal Code) and inciting ethnic hostility (Article 283.2.2 of the Criminal Code).
On the same day, 3 July 2007, pursuant to a request by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office, the Sabail District Court ordered the applicant’s detention on remand for a period of three months in connection with this criminal case. The court’s decision reiterated the charges against the applicant and justified the necessity of the applicant’s detention as follows:
“Eynulla Emin oglu Fatullayev, if he remains at large, may escape the investigation and trial and hinder the determination of the objective truth in [this criminal] case.
Due to the above considerations, the prosecutor’s request to select the preventive measure of detention on remand in respect of Eynulla Emin oglu Fatullayev is well-founded and must be granted.”
The applicant appealed. On 11 July 2007 the Court of Appeal upheld the Sabail District Court’s decision.
On 4 September 2007 the applicant was also charged with tax evasion under Article 213.2 of the Criminal Code due to the alleged failure to duly declare taxes on his personal earnings as a newspaper editor.
During the trial, among other evidence, the prosecution produced evidence showing that in May 2007 the full electronic version of “The Aliyevs Go to War” had been forwarded by e-mail to offices of a number of foreign and local companies in Baku. A number of employees of these companies testified that, after reading the article, they had felt disturbed, anxious and frightened. On 30 October 2007 the Assize Court found the applicant guilty on all charges and convicted him of threat of terrorism (eight years’ imprisonment), inciting ethnic hostility (three years’ imprisonment) and tax evasion (four months’ imprisonment). Partial merger of these sentences resulted in a sentence of eight years and four months’ imprisonment. Lastly, the court partially merged this sentence with the applicant’s sentence of two years and six months’ imprisonment imposed on him in the previous criminal case, which resulted in a total sentence of eight years and six months’ imprisonment.
On 16 January 2008 the Court of Appeal upheld the Assize Court’s judgment of 30 October 2007.
On 3 June 2008 the Supreme Court upheld the lower courts’ judgments.
1. The applicant complained under Article 3 of the Convention about the conditions of his detention in the Investigative Isolator No. 1 and the MNS detention facility. In particular, he complained that he had not been allowed to receive newspapers and magazines, had been handcuffed and searched every time when taken out of his cell, had not been allowed personal visits, and had been held in a single cell of 8 square meters which had been badly ventilated and in which the electric light had been switched on throughout the day and night.
2. The applicant complained under Article 5 §§ 1 (c), 3 and 4 of the Convention about the detention order of 3 July 2007. In particular, he complained that there had been no reasonable suspicion that he had committed a crime and that the domestic courts had failed to give sufficient reasons for his detention on remand.
3. The applicant complained, relying on Articles 6 § 1 and 13 of the Convention, that:
(a) the court of first instance in the first set of criminal proceedings had not constituted a “tribunal established by law” because the terms of office of its judges had expired in 2005;
(b) that the domestic courts in both sets of criminal proceedings, and in particular the court of first instance in the first set of criminal proceedings, had not been independent and impartial; and
(c) that he had been deprived of his right to have a fair determination of the criminal charges against him and right to an effective domestic remedy.
4. The applicant complained under Article 6 § 2 of the Convention that his presumption of innocence had been violated by the fact that on 31 May 2007, before the trial in the second criminal case, the Chief Prosecutor had made a public statement accusing him of having committed a serious crime, as well as by the fact that, during the trial, he had always been brought to the courtroom in handcuffs and placed in a metal cage during the hearings.
5. The applicant complained under Article 6 § 3 of the Convention that, despite having been transferred to the MNS detention facility on 26 May 2008 due to investigation-related reasons in the second set of criminal proceedings, he had not been informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him until 3 July 2008.
6. The applicant complained under Article 7 of the Convention that the acts for which he had been convicted did not constitute a criminal offence.
7. The applicant complained under Article 8 of the Convention that the searched conducted on 22 May 2007 in his apartment and the newspaper’s office had violated his right to respect for his home.
8. The applicant complained under Article 10 of the Convention that his convictions in both sets of criminal proceedings had violated his right to freedom of expression.
QUESTIONS TO THE PARTIES
1. Did the applicant have fair hearings in the determination of the criminal charges against him in both sets of criminal proceedings, in accordance with Article 6 § 1 of the Convention? Moreover:
(a) Could the court which heard the applicant’s first criminal case be considered as a “tribunal established by law”, as required by Article 6 § 1 of the Convention? Had the term of office of the presiding judge expired before the trial commenced and, if so, did he have competence to participate in the trial?
(b) Was the court which dealt with the applicant’s first case independent and impartial, as required by Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, given that the applicant’s criminal trial was presided over by the same judge who had previously examined the civil claim against the applicant relating to the same subject matter?
2. Was the presumption of innocence, guaranteed by Article 6 § 2 of the Convention, respected in the present case? In particular, was the Chief Prosecutor bound to respect the presumption of innocence when making his statement to the press on 31 May 2007?
3. In connection with each of the applicant’s criminal convictions, has there been an interference with the applicant’s freedom of expression, in particular his right to impart information and ideas, within the meaning of Article 10 § 1 of the Convention? If so, was that interference necessary in terms of Article 10 § 2?
4. The parties are requested to submit, inter alia: (a) a full copy of the applicant’s article entitled “Karabakh Diary”, as published in Realny Azerbaijan; (b) a copy of the Yasamal District Court’s judgment of 6 April 2007 concerning the civil claim against the applicant; (c) copies of all the evidence, as contained in the case file of the criminal proceedings, which was examined by the Yasamal District Court during the trial for the purpose of establishing the applicant’s authorship of statements posted on the forum of the AzeriTriColor website; and (d) copies of all appeals and any objections filed by the applicant during both criminal trials, including a copy of his objection to the participation of the judges of the Yasamal District Court in the first set of criminal proceedings.
FATULLAYEV v. AZERBAIJAN – STATEMENT OF FACTS AND QUESTIONS
FATULLAYEV v. AZERBAIJAN – STATEMENT OF FACTS AND QUESTIONS